WWII Ship Used For Atomic Bomb Testing Found

A WWII US aircraft carrier, eventually used as an atomic bomb testing ship, was found a half mile under the sea near the California Farallon Islands, as Echo Ranger, an 18 ½-foot long underwater robot with a 3-D imaging sonar system from Coda Octopus, navigated the area. Perhaps due to a typographical error, the WWII ship was originally thought to be located 300 miles off the coast, but has now been found only 30 miles away.

The WWII Ship: USS Independence CVL-22

The mighty WWII ship, USS Independence CVL-22, one of 90 used in the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb testing during Operation Crossroads, has been resting on the bottom of the ocean for 64 years, and is reportedly still in pretty good shape – especially considering the fact that is was hit with two separate atomic bomb blasts.

After sinking the ship, the U.S. Navy documented its location, but the logged entries seem to vary, with one suggesting that the USS Independence was located 300 miles (480 kilometers) off the coast. 3-D sonar imaging now shows the 622-foot long USS Independence (CVL-22) in detail. The images have been studied by NOAA, and depicts an intact plane sitting in the ship’s elevator. 

The USS Independence (CVL-22), commissioned in January of 1943, was originally transformed into its WWII form using a cruiser hull. The carrier, which was part of the WWII attacks on Rabaul and Tarawa, was eventually torpedoed by the Japanese and then repaired for use in Okinawa and Luzon.

Damage Suffered By Atomic Testing Ships

The USS Independence, like the other atomic bomb testing ships, suffered heat, radiation and shock wave damage, before it was towed out to sea, where it ended up in its final resting place. Prior to identifying the discovery as the sunken USS Independence, the NOAA only knew that it had found something very large on the ocean floor. Because a good image could not be obtained, another sonar mission was launched for further investigation. The recent mission was part of a two-year mission to look for, document and study some of the historic shipwrecks located in the area of the Farallon Islands.

The WWII ship discovery reveals a bit of United States history. Get a glimpse of the war, as it unfolded here: